Glossary

Use this glossary to find a definition or explanation for a term related to immigration. Start by searching for the term or clicking on the letter your word begins with. You may also view all terms.

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A


Glossary

Abuse

Abuse means to hurt - or threaten to hurt - someone physically, sexually, mentally or financially. Examples include hitting, raping, controlling someone with threats about immigration or financial support.

Glossary

Acquired Citizenship

When a child not born in the U.S. becomes a U.S. citizen because one or both of his/her parents are U.S. citizens. The ability to acquire citizenship depends on the child’s year of birth.

Glossary

Affidavit of Support

A written promise that says the signer agrees to be financially responsible for the immigrant for a certain period of time.

Glossary

Alien

The legal word for any person who is not a citizen of the U.S.

Glossary

A-Number (Alien registration number, Alien number)

A 7-, 8- or 9-digit number assigned to immigrants by the Department of Homeland Security.

Glossary

Application

The form or papers you fill out to ask the government for a visa, a benefit, or legal status, such as citizenship or a work permit.

Glossary

Arrest

Arrest is when a law enforcement officer holds someone, and they are not free to walk away. The government checks all immigration applicants for arrest records.

Glossary

Asylee

A person from another country who arrives in the U.S. asking for protection because it is dangerous for them to be in their home country.

Glossary

Asylum

Asylum is a legal status for people who came to the U.S. because they were harmed or threatened because of who they are or what they believe, and they had no other place to go to. People who get asylum can apply for a green card 12 months later.

Glossary

Attempted Crime

An attempted crime is a crime that was started, but not completed. Attempted crimes are still crimes. You may qualify for the U visa if you were the victim of an attempted crime. (It depends on the crime.)

B


Glossary

Beneficiary

A beneficiary is the person who receives the immigration benefit. Example: If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, and she applies so you can get a green card, you are the beneficiary.

Glossary

Border Patrol (Customs & Border Patrol, CBP)

An abbreviation for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.

C


Glossary

Child

In immigration law, a child is an unmarried person under 21.  The child may be a parent’s natural child, adopted child, or stepchild.

Glossary

Child Protective Services

Child Protective Services (CPS) is a state agency that protects children from abuse and neglect. Each state has its own agency, but it may be called something different. CPS agencies investigate reports of abuse, and if possible, help families learn how to stay together in healthier ways.

Glossary

Citizen or Citizenship

Being or becoming a U.S. citizen gives you the right to:

  • live in the U.S.,
  • vote in U.S. elections,
  • run for public office, and
  • travel freely.

If you were born here, you are a U.S. citizen. If one or both of your parents are U.S. citizens you are probably a U.S. citizen. Others who want to become U.S. citizens must apply for citizenship, also called naturalization.

Glossary

Communicable Disease

The U.S. government has a list of serious diseases that can spread easily and affect public health. These include: active tuberculosis, gonorrhea, infectious syphilis and other diseases that spread through sex. If you have a disease on this list, you are considered inadmissible and cannot immigrate to the U.S.

Glossary

Conditional Residence

When a person is granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis (for example, the spouse of a U.S. citizen). To stay here, that person must apply to have those conditions removed.

Glossary

Conditional Resident

A person granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis (for example, the spouse of a U.S. citizen). To stay here, that person must apply to have those conditions removed.

Glossary

Consular Processing

An interview for a green card that takes place at a U.S. consulate, usually in the applicant’s home country.

Glossary

Consulate

U.S. Consulates
U.S. consulates are branch offices of U.S. embassies, located all over the world. Most consulates accept and process nonimmigrant and immigrant (green card) visa applications.

Other Consulates
You may have to go to your own country’s consulate if you need to renew your passport or to get an official document, such as a national ID document, birth certificate, etc.

Glossary

Continuous Residence

Continuous residence is the time you live in the U.S. Some trips outside the U.S. are allowed. But if you have lived outside the U.S., or take trips that are too long, you may not prove continuous residence.

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